What Went Down at Waterworks Festival 2023

Riding off the heatwave, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, Londoners made their way to North London for the perfect dancey summer send-off. Despite facing several challenges, from the Queen’s passing last year, and then the change of location from East London’s Lee Valley Waterworks to Gunnersbury in 2021 – Waterworks festival always received positive acclaim for being a solid end of summer hurrah for electronic music lovers. This year, and fortunately for them, with no trouble at all, they once again exceeded their reputation. 

The third edition of the festival had a different energy – the extremely warm weather allowed for a buzzing crowd, ice-cold beers, colourful get-ups, and a lot of boogie-ing during the day itself. Whether it was Pressure’s new elevated stage design which allowed for a more open dance floor to Cedar’s more hidden under-the-shade away from everything corner which allowed for sit-downs and dance breaks away from the sun, the festival never seemed too crowded and made the grounds seem a lot more spacious even in full capacity. 

London’s homegrown talent Amaliah set the scene around 3pm at Pressure with her energetic disco, soul and funk sets which made for only the most immaculate vibes under the sun. One of the many standout moments (there were a few) was stumbling into Skream’s surprise dubstep set at the Resident Advisor’s SIREN stage alongside SGT Pokes. Playing classics like ‘Summer Dreams’ and ‘Blue Eyez,’ he got the crowd bopping along when he played anthems like ‘Night’ by Benga & Coki and his killer remix of ‘In For The Kill’ by La Roux. 

Strolling along to the site’s centrepiece: the Water Tower which made for a 360 degree dance floor surrounding a little hut with the DJ booth in it, Charisse C led the floor with some classic house and edits of the iconic Daft Punk, Sugababes and even Madonna’s ‘Hung Up’ which led to a dancey singalong. salute back-to-back Yung Singh took over the little cylindrical booth after Charisse C with UK garage and breakbeat cuts only to find themselves next to former Man United’s Patrice Evra grooving to their set. 

Not to forget the saga of a four and a half hour set that Saoirse, Shanti Celeste, Peach and Moxie played from the Orbit stage blaring across the field. The stage maintained a busy crowd throughout with Eris Drew going back-to-back with Angel D’lite for the closing set while a mirror-ball twirled and the trees glowed pink and purple seeing the night to a successful end. We can’t wait to find out what’s in store for next year.

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Words: Vee Pandey
Photography: Sienna Lorraine Gray, Jake Davis, Garry Jones, Rob Jones at the Khroma Collective